Ending Well

By Emily Grabatin

All groups have a natural life cycle. No matter what kind of group, a time will come when your season of leadership or meeting together is over. It’s up to the group leader to work with their pastor and group members to make a plan for finishing strong. Having a positive, healthy group ending could make all the difference in if or how soon participants connect to another group and if the leader is open to leading again.

What does it look like to finish strong? 

Ideally, once the leader has gone over this process with their pastor, winding down and closing the group will take place over the final 2 – 4 group meetings.

The leader 

  • Begins communicating with the pastor and co-leader or host about observations that the group is completing its life cycle. Reasons can include the group members having moved on to different life stages, it’s time for something new, or the leader is moving in a new direction.
  • Communication begins with the leader guiding the group in an open and authentic process.

The group members 

  • Have space to be open and transparent, and communicate and process grief or questions they have with the transition.
  • Have a chance for closure with the group members and group leader (i.e.: a celebration, social time, processing, clear, transparent, authentic communication).
  • Know their options for connecting and growing spiritually afterward, including options for the next group semester.

The pastor and ministry team coordinator

  • Know why the leader is stepping down, or the group is ending.
  • Are included in conversations about the closure or transition process (using this guide).
  • See how each person in the group is being followed up with or where they need/want to be connected for the next group semester.

Preparing Yourself and Your Group

Points to Reflect and Pray Over – Alone or With Your Co-leader/Host:

  • Why do you think this season of the group or your leadership is coming to an end?
  • How do you feel about this transition?
  • How have you grown through this leadership experience?
  • What has God done in and through your group during your season of leadership? How have people grown spiritually? Relationally?
  • Who is ready to step into leadership in the next season?
  • What kind of group might the members want after this group ends?
  • When will you communicate this to your group? How? By when?

Checklist:

  • 6-8 weeks before the group ends
  • Set the end date.
  • Update, reflect and pray with your co-leaders and/or host about the transition.
  • Debrief with your area pastor.
  • 3-6 weeks before the group ends
    • Talk about the ending/transition as a group.
    • Stay connected to the group members during the final weeks
    • Affirm leadership potential you see group members and invite them into the next steps
  • 2-3 weeks before the final meeting
    • Plan your last meeting with some fun moments, celebration moments and prayer. It doesn’t have to be deep or drawn out, especially if it might be awkward or tense. Find a way to celebrate the growth by sharing answer prayers and favourite moments of the groups’ duration. Your last meeting is also a prime opportunity to cast vision and hope for what’s ahead, so this becomes a purposeful experience for everyone. Your area pastor would be happy to help you articulate this well for your group’s context.
    • Offer ideas for connecting into groups after the group ends, individually or as a group.

Ending a group is never easy!

It’s natural to have mixed emotions about the ending of a season of leadership. But, regardless of the type of group you lead, there will come a time when someone will make the call that moving on is the right thing to do. You invested time and energy into these lives, growth through the experience, and now it’s time to begin a new season of life. Amid these mixed emotions, celebrate all God has done in your lives through meeting together and help group members gain excitement about what God has ahead of them.

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